Tag Archives: Bowl Championship Series

D-Day looms for BCS

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for that Sunday in March, ‘Selection Sunday,’ where the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed.

We now have a new selection Sunday, this coming one, where the Bowl Championship Series will make it’s selections for the four games, plus the given national title game (unless Texas somehow screws up the Big 12 title game)…

The looming issue for the BCS, what to do with a second Big Ten team. Many are lobbying for Iowa to be that team because afterall they played in the de facto conference title game against Ohio State and they beat PSU head-to-head.

Iowa deserves the nod, there’s no question. If the BCS wants to have any shred of credibility, they won’t stoop to the level of picking the marketable PSU over Iowa.

But they don’t and they won’t.

So Penn State, I feel, is headed to a BCS bowl, the Fiesta, where they will get Boise State or TCU in what should be three things. First, the highest rated of the non-title games, second, wildly entertaining and third, a huge cash cow for the BCS.

Every year we can point out problems with the bowl system. In fact all this talk that FSU might play West Virginia in a Bowden-farewell bowl is disgusting.

The BCS is nothing more than a business and Penn State is good for bowl business. All this nonsense about economy and people not traveling is just that, nonsense. People who say they have sources that tell them this or that about bowls, don’t.

Don’t buy it.

Do buy that when push comes to shove, Penn State is good for business, they draw, they always will, they have Joe Paterno, they have stars in Daryll Clark and Navorro Bowman, and if the Big Ten wants to shed it’s terrible image with the big games, PSU is the safest of the two picks.

Whether or not they deserve it, you can keep debating that until you’re blue in the face. But they’re going to be there.


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Tuesday Cup of Joe: The Finale

Joe Paterno has wrapped up his weekly teleconfernece for the final time in 2009. Here’s the news you need to know headed into the finale against Michigan State where the Nittany Lions could cap a 10-2 season and possibly wrap up a BCS at-large berth.

THE BIG NEWS: Wide receiver Chaz Powell is unlikely to play this weekend with his sprained AC joint suffered against Indiana.

THE BIG NEWS II: DeOn’Tae Pannell will remain at guard for the finale and also the bowl game.

THE BIG NEWS III: Freshman wide receiver Devon Smith hasn’t been seen much because he’s been cutting classes. Paterno said “He’s decided he’s here to get an education,” and added that “He’s OK, he’s got a long way to go to grow up.”


  • Joe is pleased with tight end Andrew Quarless and they should get him the ball more.
  • The staff has been trying to get Kevin Newsome in more during the season, but it just hasn’t worked out much. “You hate to get out of style, and the Wildcat is the style now,” per Joe. “I just want to be stylish and we stick the Wildcat in there once in a while.”
  • Opposing defenses vs. the PSU wideouts has been good, “it’s a question of what they’re doing and giving us more of a chance to run the football.”
  • Joe likes Cousins running the offense at Michigan State. Said he’s a good quarterback and it’s an interesting question stacking him up against the other QBs.
  • Joe thinks the kicking game will determine how this game shakes out. Says that Michigan State has “excellent” special teams.
  • Rivalry with MSU: “We got an hour and a half of this press conference to answer that,” Joe remarks. Joe says it depends on the year how the rivalry between the two of them is. Joe says that there are other rivalries in the Big Ten that are better, but he thinks this could turn into a good one in due time. He kind of hints here that PSU still isn’t welcome in the Big Ten
  • No changes to punt return team.
  • Joe isn’t sure who will replace Beachum on special teams.
  • Joe did not talk to the team about a possible BCS bowl berth.
  • There have been no discussions between Paterno and linebacker Navorro Bowman about Bowman possibly leaving for the NFL.
  • Royster is a good all around back according to Joe…says he was on Royster for not playing with as much fire as he had before earlier in the season.
  • Joe says now there are more responsibilities for the admin to consider, namely 29 teams they have to find money to take care of expenses for.  “I think the University is doing the best it can. What exactly are specifics, I don’t know. All I’ve ever said to Curley is  “you’re doing one heck of a job.”  Joe says compared to other schools PSU is probably charging less than some of the Big Ten schools ticket wise. He said: “They’ve got to do something, or we’ve got to cut back sports, and we don’t want to do that.”
  • Michigan State is better than its 6-5 record indicates according to Joe and they are on the verge of being a really good football team but he hopes they are 10 days away from becoming such.
  • Joe things the team is playing consistent football but adds he wishes they would have won another game or two.

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Nittany Lion Hotline recap

Here is your running update from Nittany Lion Hotline for Ohio State week.

YOUR HOST: The man, Steve Jones, who last week had one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard during a football broadcast, when during the problem the officials had spotting the ball, once it was announced where the ball would be placed, Steve slipped in a “we know.” You had to hear it. I howled.

PRESENTING SPONSOR: As always this season, Nittany Lion Hotline is brought to you by Sinus Buster Nasal Spray (I’ve switched back to Afrin myself, but hey, whatever clears your nose in this crappy fall weather).

THE BIG NEWS: Joe did not like the “Terrelle Cryer” t-shirt. He applauds Pryor for being a good kid. Sounds like The Godfather was the one that put the ki-bosh on the shirt. “Paulie? Oh we won’t see him no more.”

THE BIG NEWS II: Stephfon Green will be ready this week. Joe said he had a good Wednesday of practice and looked good today as well. But added if they have to play Beachum, Beachum won’t hurt them.

THE NOT BIG NEWS BUT WORTH MENTIONING NEWS: Jones reports in the first segment that the line to get into the overnight RV lot was already long today. You fans, I’ll tell ya…does anybody work on Friday’s in-state anymore? (Sidebar: I think it would be a great story to say fly to a far away state and travel into town with fans that drive a RV. Any takers? I’ll bring beer)

PLAYER GUEST: Defensive tackle Jared Odrick is up tonight. Good time as ever to pimp him.

  • Odrick says it’s easy to get pumped up for a game like Ohio State.
  • Defense has been able to get better, and he says that Odrick has this ability to feel out the blocks before they happen.
  • He prefers 3-technique.
  • No brainer that Pryor is the guy they are focusing on and that they have to play solid and sound defense vs. him.
  • Pryor is deceptively quick. “Sideline to sideline he is really fast and we know he likes to get to that sideline and get out of bounds before he cuts back.” (interesting….pinky to mouth)
  • Talking about the support the team receives, Odrick says that ON THE ROAD, at Michigan the crowd in the PSU end was so loud that Tate Forcier had trouble getting a snap off. Geesh.

JOE ARRIVAL TIME: 6:25 eastern standard time, 3:25 in California and I believe 1:25 pm in H-A-W-A-II, Joseph Vincent Paterno makes his long awaited return to the Hotline show…it’s been a long two weeks since we last heard from the coach. And in that two weeks, nothing has happened.


  • Darla, or as Joe calls her, ‘Darler’ calls in to say she has a bitchin’ tailgate planned this week. Joe says that he hopes the postgame tailgate is better. (I would pay straight cash homey to see Joe swing by a tailgate and shotgun a Keystone Light with some co-eds. That would be in-cred-ible)
  • Joe burns Roger from Emmaus, who tries to match X’s and O’s. Don’t challenge him, Rog. Don’t challenge him.
  • Joe is breaking down the passing game now. Z-cross, X-Y out, whatever just happened to saying “you go to the car and run a post, you go to the fire hydrant and run a comeback?
  • The two down lineman are really good for OSU per JVP.
  • “They’re a tough team to run against. This will be a good, tough football game. The guy that makes the least mistakes will probably win.”
  • Joe says if they make mistakes, they will get licked. If Ohio State makes mistakes, they will get licked. SOMEONE IS GETTING LICKED!


  • Al Golden’s got Temple cooking, per Joe.
  • Caller says his kid goes to PSU and saw Joe driving this summer and his son waved at Joe and Joe waved back. Joe says: “I wasn’t waving at him, I was running out of gas.”….BADA BOOM!
  • Joe pimps Daryll Clark again. (Note: more on this tomorrow, I got something planned for this here space y’all will love, and hopefully eat up about DC)


  • Joe says the wide receivers had great potential coming into the season, Joe adds that they haven’t exceeded expectations but they have come along faster than they thought they would. (apparently people really don’t read newspapers anymore because everyone on the beat has written this, over and over.)
  • Joe gets a call from someone who is talking about how much he means to the state of PA (Joe, not the caller), and Joe says “I’m gonna tape this conversation and give it to my wife.” BOOM. ROASTED.


  • Joe says they practiced well this week and they did a little more than they usually do on Monday to “see where we are.”
  • Joe won’t say for sure if Ohio State is the biggest rival for PSU. He mentions Iowa and Michigan State. I’d vote for Iowa, but you have to beat the team every now and then…you know, in order for it to be a rivalry. Ohio State is definitely PSU’s biggest rival and it’s the biggest game in the Big Ten annually right now, thanks to the 2005 game.
  • Joe thinks Terrelle Pryor made a good choice in picking Ohio State for his school.
  • Joe wants the crowd to be loud “but don’t be mean spirited. I hate booing. Let’s just hope we play as well as we can play and they play as well as they can play and let’s see what happens.” Then he adds “but you can help us be better by being loud.”

Joe exits stage left.

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Countdown: No. 10

So I figured this would be something you out there in Nittany Land would eat up and discuss amongst yourselves.

I’ve decided to give you, the valued reader, the top ten guys I think will make the biggest impact this season. Other news and notes of the day follows below this.


Now, before you laugh and ask why a punter makes the top ten, here’s how this whole thing broke down when I really thought about it. Five offensive players, four defensive and one special teams (Boone.)

So why Boone? Why not. It’s a Big Ten football team, that will play meaningful games in cold weather where a defensive effort will have to win it (See, State, Ohio, 2008) and Boone’s foot will be needed to set up that defensive effort.

Boone’s value became apparent two years ago when he took over for Jeremy Kapinos and averaged 39.4 yards per punt and we all remember what Kapinos did in the Orange Bowl to essentially bail PSU out.

Last season Boone really wasn’t needed as much because the offense was more prolific. He got out of the ’07 flow a little bit, but averaged 43-yards per punt and dropped 15 inside the opposing 20-yard line.

A lot won’t realize his importance until after the season, but trust me, Boone will have an impact.


There’s been a lot said (via Twitter) about Evan Royster’s “snub” on the Doak Walker list. A couple of blogs (among them First and Big Ten) picked up on the fact that Penn State missed an apparent earlier-than-usual deadline to nominate running backs for the preseason watch list put out by the award committee.

Look, there’s no doubt Royster is the best back in the Big Ten. He might have been last year had it not been for Daryll Clark’s outstanding performance and the fact that the offense had to share the total wealth.

Royster was a semifinalist for the award last year, so there’s no question he hasn’t regressed or anything like that. He will be on that list at the end of the year, barring injury.

Which leads me to a soapbox rant.

These “watch lists” and preseason teams, and preseason polls for that matter, amount to squat. I go back to my rant last week about Daryll Clark. You’re telling me the best quarterback in the Big Ten at the END of 2008, returns yet he isn’t the best in the conference to open 2009?

Makes no sense.

I get that you can go 50-50 on Clark or Terrelle Pryor, and Pryor probably has more upside because he will start at QB longer in college than Clark did. Fine. But it still makes no sense.

So essentially what I am saying is this. Pick a favorite and an order in each conference, but lets ditch these watch lists and preseason teams when in the end, they could amount to, well nothing.

On the flip side of that argument, if you are a school and you have a worthy candidate for an award and going under the current way, we keep picking these damn things, please, promote your player properly.

As a member of the FWAA, I get stuff in my mailbox almost on a weekly basis pimping a player from said team. So far this year it was an Ole Miss media guide, stuff from Oklahoma already, a CD from Illinois telling me that Juice Williams and Regis Benn are the best QB-WR duo in the Big Ten, that’s all fine, but I have to raise the point…we don’t see much of that from PSU.

Every once in a while we get a notepad with a three or four players on it of note, but instead of leaving the promotion up to us writers on the beat, Penn State should kick in and do it’s players worthy a service and use its own hype machine to get the message out.

Give Director of Football Branding, Guido D’Elia a week to put something together on Daryll Clark, Evan Royster, Sean Lee, whomever, and let him run with it. Make these guys available every week to TV or have them do chats with Adam Rittenberg, whatever the case, get the message out.

We writers can only write so much in so little space these days.

-end soap box-


Kudos to BCS Watch for adding some detail to this tidbit.

Beginning next season (not the one starting in a few weeks, but the ’10 season), we could be void of subpar USC beatdowns in Rose Bowls to come.

The rule stipulates that the first time over the next four years that either the PAC-10 champion or the Big 10 champion gets in the National Championship game, the Rose Bowl will be obligated to select an eligible team from a non BCS conference, if one exist, as a replacement. This is something Rose Bowl would rather not do, but without this stipulation, the burden of accepting a non BCS conference team would more often fall on the other three BCS bowls – which they rightfully believe to be a little unfair.

So there you go. If a Big Ten or Pac-10 team makes it to the national title game, the Rose Bowl is obligated to look at the Utah’s and Boise State’s of the world. It’s a good move. And it’s one that didn’t involve some government debate on Capitol Hill.

Results probably won’t be any different if say BYU gets in there against a USC, but at least for one day it’d save the Big Ten from being the national whipping boy (that is assuming a Big Ten team makes the title game and, you know, actually wins it.)

Back tomorrow with No. 9 on the countdown.

e-mail: ethomas626@yahoo.com | Twitter: Betweenthelions

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Continuing the shift

Today’s news that the Rose Bowl has joined the other BCS games on ESPN starting in 2011 is not a surprise.

It was long rumored that when Disney/ESPN/ABC pulled the BCS away from Fox that eventually, all games would shift over to cable. It was thought that ABC would keep the BCS title game or the Rose Bowl on ABC to keep it on a network, but that is not the case with today’s announcement.

It’s a trend that I wrote about last football season with all of these major events shifting over to cable in due time. Think about it.

Already on cable we get plenty of Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL, college football and basketball, the Tennis majors are on cable for the opening round, as are all golf majors in the opening rounds. NASCAR is on cable for half of its season.

ABC will keep some important sporting events on network TV, such as the Little League World Series, NBA Finals, Indy 500, World Cup Soccer and coming up the SEC Men’s Basketball finals, on network TV for the first time ever.

But that doesn’t mean the majority of sports aren’t going or have gone the cable rout and that trend will continue.

It’s probably only a matter of time until we get a Super Bowl on cable or on a pay-per-view basis. Hell you can’t find half of the NHL playoffs on television anywhere anymore. And the NBA conference finals are on TNT and ESPN, meanwhile TBS has stormed in to pick up a LCS every year too. Plus fans already pay to watch college football and all major sports on pay-per-view for regular season games.

Still, the networks keep the majority of the big events. The World Series remains on Fox, the Daytona 500 too. CBS keeps the final two rounds of The Masters, NBC the U.S. Open, ABC the British Open. NBC keeps the finals of Wimbledon and the French Open too. Plus the NCAA Tournament is all CBS’ baby.

The gap between viewership on ESPN and the networks isn’t much. ESPN, according to the USA Today story, has 98 million viewers. That’s more than enough for the BCS. Cable numbers are usually lower in the ratings book.

For example, take MSNBC for instance, its available in 93 million households, but on a given night draws anywhere from 1.1-1.3 million for its primetime programming.

Last month TNT drew 4.7 million viewers for it’s “40 games in 40 nights” coverage of the NBA playoffs. That was an increase of 22-percent from the year before.

So there is a model of success for sports on cable. Of course college football is so wildly popular that it can’t fail on cable, or in ESPN’s hands. The best coverage year in and year out is ABC/ESPN’s coverage of college football, so production, announcing crews and display will not change.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that some tradition is going away without these games on network TV. It wasn’t too long ago you could catch the Fiesta Bowl opposite of the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day on either NBC or CBS.

Then you could look forward to the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl going head-to-head at night.

Now it’s more of a case that the networks give specific games their own spotlight. ESPN kicks off the coverage on New Years Day with the Outback Bowl, you get an hour of that before the Gator Bowl comes on, then the Capital One overlaps both before the Rose Bowl has it’s own spotlight before whatever BCS game is that night at 8 pm.

So thinks are changing. The games don’t but  the viewing does.

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Home and Home with Heels?

North Carolina and head football coach Butch Davis are looking for a schedule upgrade. 

So they have contacted Penn State among others in an effort to land some quality non-conference opponents. 

Among the other schools contacted by the Tar Heels are Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan as well. 

Here’s what works about this possibility. Penn State isn’t going to schedule USC or Florida, we all understand that. What they are looking to do is land a few marquee names (like Alabama starting next year), possibly Miami, but they need a quality school from a quality BCS conference. 

So this is a win-win situation for both schools. The question remains, would Penn State opt for the home-and-home type series given that Joe Paterno will always argue as to why they need that seventh or in some cases (like this coming season) eighth home game to get the necessary money to trickle down to the other athletic programs. 

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Penn State is able to reach an agreement with the Tar Heels for a home-and-home series, but not Pittsburgh? Isn’t there something terribly wrong with that? 


UNC has contacted Penn State about a possible home-and-home series.

UNC has contacted Penn State about a possible home-and-home series.

Still, Penn State will skate with one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the country in 2009, but in 2010, it’s starting to pick up a little more. 


There isn’t much to the Miami rumors yet, but the word on the street in So. Florida is that the talks between the two teams are picking up some steam. 

Here’s the other thing to consider. Penn State could be feeling pressure from the other Big Ten schools like Ohio State to buck up and schedule more quality in the non-con. Look at Ohio State’s schedule in the next decade. 

The Buckeys bring Miami, Va. Tech, Navy, California, Oklahoma and Tennessee in the next 10 years, starting in 2010. Look at how a marquee opponent in the non-con slate has benefitted the Buckeyes in the past. They found out early a season ago where they stood compared to USC, then turned that whipping around into a Fiesta Bowl run. 

In the two years the Buckeyes locked up with Texas, each team benefitted from wins on the others homefield. 

Again, Penn State isn’t going to take the drastic leaps and bounds and do a home-and-home with Florida, Texas or USC, but getting a quality BCS conference team on the schedule can’t hurt.

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Utes, Tigers maybe?

Before I get to the guts of today’s blog, here’s today’s read on the PSU prospects getting ready for the NFL Draft in Lancaster, Pa.

Have you taken a look at Penn State’s 2009 schedule lately?

Let’s be honest here for a second, the non-conference schedule, well it does nothing to jump out at you, nor does it do anything to get the Lions prepared for the Big Ten schedule, or a possible BCS bowl to cap the 2009 season.

So there’s been some speculation that Penn State may opt out of a game already in place, maybe the Oct. 10 game against Eastern Illinois.

That game, smack in the middle of the Big Ten portion of the schedule, doesn’t do much, kind of like the Temple game in November of 2007 did little, save for forcing people to nearly miss kickoff because traffic in Philly is…well traffic in Philly.

There’s chatter on a Missouri message board that the Tigers could pop up on Penn State’s schedule in place of EIU.

It’s totally fan speculation at this point, put ask me, it deserves some mention.

Colleague/good friend/frequent text message partner and all around good guy Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call reported after the Rose Bowl that Penn State was looking at a possible ACC team for a spot on the schedule.

We’ll see. I’m not 100-percent sure if Penn State would want a BCS caliber conference team in the middle of the Big Ten schedule. But in all honesty, it couldn’t hurt, could it?

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